Day 89: …And Just Like That, They Were Gone

It’s amazing how fast crowds disappear. We woke up this morning by a mountain lake, camped right next to three Russians and with easily a half-dozen tents within a couple of hundred feet. Yet this evening, we’re camped all by ourselves, and we saw almost nobody today. In the space of twenty-four hours, it seems like every last trace of the holiday crowds has completely vanished, leaving us alone with the trail again.

Hiking near Lake Tahoe is impressively beautiful, particularly today. At least every few miles, we get a chance to look down and see the lake itself — and sometimes the trail takes us high on ridges, giving us spectacular views of the lake for long periods of time. Even when we’re not up high, the area is lush with greenery and meadows, full of beautiful pine forests…it seems kind of crazy to me that so many people crowd themselves into Desolation Wilderness, when the trail we’ve been on today is every bit as gorgeous and a thousand times less populated.

Tahoe is a ski town (or “ski region”, more properly, I suppose), and of course we were going to intersect that at some point. Today the trail took us high across two different ski resorts, up at the top of a chairlift, and the experience is pretty amusing. The top of a ski hill looks almost bizarre in the summertime: there are fences in random places for no apparent reason, a chairlift with no chairs on it and that probably hasn’t budged in two months, signs directing you to various ski trails that are, of course, nothing more than extremely steep hills right now…and everything is up really high, so that it’s still visible when there’s ten feet of snow up there.

We’re actually camping tonight in Squaw Valley ski area (Alpine Meadows was earlier today). It’s fun to be able to say that I walked from one to the other, and that I know that, underneath all the snow in the wintertime, there’s the Pacific Crest Trail, just waiting until the next summer.

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